The long-running offseason drama involving the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end is nowhere near a resolution, leaving the Panthers without salary-cap space and Peppers' future uncertain.
A day after the Panthers dismissed an NFL.com report that Peppers was close to being dealt to New England for a second-round pick, a person close to Peppers said Tuesday the Patriots are one of the teams for which he'd like to play.
The Dallas Cowboys and two other unidentified NFC teams also are on Peppers' four-team wish list, according to the same person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the trade talks were supposed to remain confidential.
But there are several obstacles that must be cleared before Peppers leaves Charlotte. The biggest is that the Panthers have placed the franchise tag on their career sacks leader. That required them to offer him a one-year tender for $16.7 million that counts immediately against the salary cap, leaving the Panthers no cap space to make any other moves in free agency.
Under the nonexclusive franchise tag rules, Peppers could sign with another team only if that club gave up two first-round draft picks in return. There is precedent for teams letting a franchise player go for less compensation -- Kansas City traded defensive end Jared Allen to Minnesota last year for a first-round pick and two third-round choices -- but any kind of deal now is tricky because Peppers hasn't signed his tender with Carolina.
Until he does, the Panthers are barred from any trade talks involving Peppers. His agent can negotiate with other teams, then can come to the Panthers with a deal for them to accept or reject.
General manager Marty Hurney said in a statement Monday they've not been presented with any trade proposals.
It's also uncertain that the Panthers would be willing to accept only a second-round pick -- as the NFL.com report suggested -- for a player who had 14½ sacks last season and is the cornerstone of their defensive line.
Peppers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft, announced last month that he wouldn't sign a long-term deal with Carolina and wanted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Patriots are among the teams that use that defense.